Syria's sectarian civil war endangering Shi'ite shrines

May 8, 2013 22:03

Iran has condemned what it called a Syrian rebel attack on a shrine where remains of a 7th-century figure revered by Shi'ite Muslims were dug up and taken away, highlighting how Syria's civil war is inflaming sectarian anger.

A report of the desecration of the Hojr Ibn Oday shrine near Damascus, posted with photographs on Facebook in late April, could not be verified but it prompted the Shi'ite leadership in Tehran to urge respect for holy sites in a conflict where the rebels include Sunni Islamists hostile to Iran.

Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted by Iranian Press TV saying: "Such acts could ignite the fire of religious rifts among followers of the divine religions". He urged international organizations to safeguard sacred Islamic and Christian places in Syria, an ancient crossroads for religions.

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